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Ignition interlock testing linked to distracted driving crashes

Ignition interlock devices that test drivers’ breath for alcohol before allowing their vehicles to start contribute to the enforcement of drunk driving laws in Iowa. These devices have proven that they reduce repeat offenses by people convicted of intoxicated driving, but they also have the potential to distract drivers. Manufacturers of these devices typically require drivers to initiate a retesting of their breath at some point during a trip. The rolling retest function is meant to disrupt attempts to fool the device by having a sober person start the vehicle at the onset of a trip. Unfortunately, blowing into the devices while operating vehicles can distract drivers and sometimes cause accidents.

An investigation by journalists identified multiple accidents associated with the distraction of a rolling retest. Some cases involved lawsuits. To avoid distractions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises drivers to pull over before breathing into the ignition interlock device. Device manufacturers have also built in features that grant drivers time to find a safe spot to stop before they blow into the tube. Despite safety features, the system relies on individual drivers to take precautions to prevent distracted driving.

The accidents attributed to ignition interlock distractions could rise as the criminal justice system increasingly requires them. The use of these devices has gone up substantially over the past decade from 133,000 devices to 350,000.

Someone hurt in a crash caused by a distracted driver might have trouble proving that the other driver was distracted. The services of an attorney who litigates car accidents might result in a thorough accident investigation that uncovers important facts vital for pursuing damages. After collecting evidence, a lawyer might overcome an insurer’s methods for limiting victim compensation through either negotiations or a courtroom trial.

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